How I ducked the US customs without a passport :o)
Alright. I admit. Ducking the US Customs maybe slightly misleading, because I actually did not sneak in nor was I smuggled through the border – since that is what I may have inadvertently implied. It's not my intent to sound tabloid'ish to garner readers. Nor is my writing racist. Upon much reflection on its insignificance in the universe of things, I cannot offer another way to summarize my recent experience. But please keep in mind that this piece is not about race, prejudice, nationality, or color. In fact, if you can go back to those years when we were unaware of something called Political Correctness – PC, and then remember how relaxed and happier we were, then hold onto that thought. Stay in that frame of mind until you complete reading. You'll understand my references, which otherwise some may jump upon as “racist”.
It's a long story but if I think about it, the lesson I learned from what happened is really universal. I also view it as one more peg to strengthen my belief: If something is meant to happen, it will – no matter how slim the odds are; and conversely, the well-worn adage about the “best laid plans of mice and men”.
One of the reasons O. must have been my only best friend over thirty years is that we are so alike in many ways. In others, our extreme polarity has saved us in many times of distress.
We had planned for coffee and a stroll at the market; I'd pick her up at 2:00. When I was drying my hair, my sister called announcing she was in town for the day. Thinking of two beautiful birds with one sto. . no. . no! Of a wonderful gesture, I asked her if she'd like to join us at the market. She had an hour frame between 2:00 and 3:00. Perfect!
As soon as we hung up, my sister called with an alternate plan: Getting to the Market would lose her half an hour; instead why didn't I and O. have coffee at her place? Great idea, O. and my sister like each other very much. My heart was beating with premature accomplishment when I dialled O. again but the answering machine picked up. I asked her to call me right back and said I'd pick her up at 1:30, not 2:00. I had a surprise.
An hour later, ready to leave, I called once again but was crestfallen to speak to the recorder and yelled at the stupid machine to be ready at the door in five minutes. I was leaving NOW!
When I'm torn between quick decisions, equally important choices, people I love, I must fly on automatic pilot. I don't know whether I answer to reason, instinct or panic, but an unknown hand guides me. So far that hand has been benevolent, letting me get by unscathed, except with intimately shared comical memories – which, in retrospect I believe happened for a reason – with the people I love. That is a great blessing in itself.
It must have been that Benevolent Hand steering the wheel of my car which took me almost to the Canada US border yesterday, when all I wanted was to drive back from downtown Montréal to the South Shore, a fifteen minute drive over the Champlain Bridge. What happened in between was. . .
Her husband, awakened from his nap, answered the door. He had no idea where she was – may be she was gone on one of her walks. I decided to wait in my car; it's 1:34. I could make it to my sister's place in 15 minutes. It's Saturday. The bridge should be clear. . . Five more minutes lapse and I think to myself: Oh, gosh, if she comes back from one of her power walks, she'll be sweaty and has to change! There's No way I can make it there for 2:oo! I scribble a quick story – a brief summary of what's here, and add I'll return at 3:20 to pick her up and go somewhere else – stuff it in the mailbox, and hit the highway . Aha!
I made it to my sister's flat by 2:10 – construction between René Levesque and du Maisonneuve. Time flies by. Coffee, talk, laughter, more talk, memories. . . It's 3:37! A quick hug, kiss, kiss. Roll down the window and hold hands. Blow back a kiss. Back on the Ville Marie facing the South Shore. I feel guilty for standing up O. so decided to give her a call on my car phone. (It came with the lease). O. beat me to apologies, explaining what happened (insert the absurd, here) and as I listen to her, I start enjoying the hands-free phone while I drive. So I ask if we can keep talking until I arrive at her doorstep. This will be the longest call I've made, calmly while driving, and to boot - I have over two hundred minutes to use up by the end of May. The idea entertains her too – as long as I'm careful. I can visualize her settling on the armchair.
Traffic is light, cool but sunny afternoon, and it's a different world to be driving and chatting with my best friend about philosophical – of all – things. There's an on the road, again kind of feeling in there somewhere, for me. Life is a highway. . .
I just want to pull into her driveway and say, “I'm here!” But somehow, some mini-instant, a tiny devil or temporary cross-wiring in my brain makes me take the wrong parting of the Y on the road and drive through progressively unfamiliar looking landmarks. When I realize I may be lost, I hear her grip tighten on her phone.
She insisted COSTCO should be on my right! I never even passed one before, going to her. I was approaching silver domed churches, a lake – or maybe St Lawrence – on my right, now passing through what looked like wheat fields – they were uncut, dry hay. She was gasping, trying to picture where could I be! She was relieved hearing the municipality of Candiac. “I know that name! We lived there 25 years ago, remember?” I passed through two more names that evoked her memories until we determined that I was on my way to the US border. Seeing the “Duty Free/H'Ors Taxes” sign was somewhat helpful. My first utterance, Oh, O.! My passport is at home! was her call to calming down. While I started imagining myself dragged into detention rooms for id verification and questioning, O was sounding calm and logical. I rolled up my window to cut out excess traffic sound so I could hear her every word of wisdom.
There used to be a turn off before the “douanes” so I should just turn around at first chance. Can you see an exit, U turn sign? Whatever you do, don't turn into any of those unfamiliar French towns!
All U turn possibilities were filled were pylons, as well as marked “illegal”, and forget the exits. Direction-wise, I cannot join the dots abstractly, period. I'm just another Evangeline, who can only re-trace her way back as the crow flies, even it means taking the longest route. That's the cautious, patient, responsible goat in me, not the ambitious, calculating, mountain-climbing one. The was tank half full, sun was still up, and I had company. . . Why not laugh and joke?
The longest route I took from my place to O.
How O. remote-directed me from USA
Why we need a GP – or do we?
How our characters may clash with a GP
If you asked a Newfie. . . *
Do you know the one about a Frenchman and a Turk?*
Thus echoed in old jokes from our culture, and offended no one. That was half of our conversation yesterday, as I drove until almost the end of the Canadian land when, just a few kilometres from the US border I saw a free U turn, took a chance, and pulled an illegal one. My senses alert for sings of sirens and lights, O. and I were right on the way back to home! The rest was easy, everything fell on its right side.
We had planned to meet and spend the afternoon together for longer than it took my sister and me to actually do it. It wasn't mean to happen, yet my unplanned meeting with my sister against all attempts to include O. went ahead. In turn, my delay from her to pick up O. resulted in my getting lost and having the longest, yet one of the deeper, more cathartic conversations with her because I went on a 60 mile round trip with 200 minutes left on my car phone. So out of the blue, like many events in my life – big or small – that have a deeply touching effect on me.
Maybe one shouldn't try to read a meaning into everything and not make a big deal out of a small mistake. Maybe everything doesn't happen for a purpose. Maybe it is a random universe and I should get a life. Then I think again and say to myself, even if everything may not happen always for a purpose; in what does happen there's a lesson to be learned. None too big or too small. Each lesson tempers what makes us, us; and therein lies the key to finding our inner peace.
So, my friend and I named April 28, 2012 our “Border Gate”. Whenever we mention the phrase, it will trickle an entire slew of memories all with their warmth, panic, adrenaline rush, empowerment, laughter, tears. . . She's flying to Istanbul on Monday until September. That was supposed to be our mini farewell. We both agree it was the best one when we had almost two hours of undivided conversation and talked our hearts out to each other - linked by a land line and a hands off car phone - until I drowe into her driveway. Then we had tea, sat a while, hugged, and said farewell, see you in September.
I was thinking of not buying any more minutes, since I hardly use OnStar.
Now, I'm seriously reconsidering.
Füsun Atalay ~ Copyright © Will of my Own - 2012
* If you are curious about the Newfie, or Frenchman and the Turk joke, please pm me.